Match Report


UniBond Challenge Cup, 1st Round Match,
played on Monday, 20 October, 2003 at 7.45p.m.


Altrincham rode their luck to advance into Round 2 of the UniBond Challenge Cup at Hyde. For much of the game Hyde's fast, passing game had Altrincham on the back foot but when keeper John Baker failed to control a routine throw-in, the alert Hardy seized on the loose ball to knock it into the empty net (81 mins). Whilst Talbot's first-half header had grazed the bar, Hyde had created more openings with Wright almost scoring when he got to the by-line but his shot came out off the far post. As at Hucknall on Saturday, Alty once again suffered an early injury with Stephen Rose having to go off with a shoulder injury after just two minutes of play. Then, Mark Maddox, who had come on to replace Rose and who was limping before kick-off, had to be replaced at half-time. Mark joined Alty's four walking wounded (Acton, Murphy, Scott and Rose) in the stand for the second half.


  • 81 mins: Niell HARDY (Hyde United 0 Altrincham 1)

    REFEREE: Mr D G Kellett (Bradford)

    As ever, the pitch at Ewen Fields was in fine condition and the whole ground, with its neat appearance and four-sided cover, was a credit to the club who have maintained high standards despite their relegation last summer. Alty boss Graham Heathcote was serving the second of his three-match touchline ban so Dalton Steele was in charge of the bench. Dalton has now swapped his crutches for a single stick, following his summer cricketing injury.


    Stuart Coburn received a warm welcome on his return to the Altrincham goal after an absence of just over a year during which he was at Leigh RMI. Ironically, Steve Waywell, the manager who took Stuart to Leigh, is now the Hyde United manager. Gary Scott was out after his injury at Hucknall on Saturday and he, Richard Acton and Danny Murphy were all seated in the stand on what was the coldest footballing night of the year to date. Alty captain Mark Maddox was only fit enough to start on the bench - though he was soon to be called into action. Stephen Rose moved into the back four to replace Mark.

    Good news was that Peter Band had recovered from his collision with a concrete wall at Hucknall on Saturday to start tonight against his former club. Steve Lunt returned to the squad, on the bench, whilst Niell Hardy started his second game alongside Rod Thornley, who took over the captaincy from the absent Maddox. Steve Aspinall took over from Scott at right-back.

    Hyde were without the dangerous former Leigh man, Neil Tolson, but included two ex-Alty men in Matty McNeil and Steven Clegg, as well as recent signing Nicky Hill, from Leigh.


    HYDE UNITED (Red shirts, white shorts, red socks.): 1. John BAKER, 2. Steven CLEGG, 3. Ian PENDLEBURY, 4. Paul JONES, 5. Nicky HILL, 6. John O'KANE (capt.), 7. John GAYNOR, 8. Phil SALT, 9. Tony ELLIS, 10. Anthony WRIGHT, 11. Matty McNEIL. Subs: 12. Anthony KIELTHY, 14. Glyn BARKER, 15. Tony WATTS.

    ALTRINCHAM (Pale blue shirts, black shorts, pale blue socks): 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. Steve ASPINALL, 3. Chris ADAMS, 4. Stephen ROSE, 5. Gary TALBOT, 6. Ian CRANEY, 7. Dave GARDNER, 8. Peter BAND, 9. Niell HARDY, 10. Rod THORNLEY (capt.), 11. Barry SHUTTLEWORTH. Subs: 12. Mark MADDOX, 14. Nick WELTON, 15. Steve LUNT.


    In a carbon copy of Saturday's game at Hucknall, Altrincham suffered a serious injury after just two minutes of the game when Stephen Rose went down, off the ball, as it was played forward by Hyde along the inside left channel. A colleague immediately signalled to the bench that it was a shoulder/neck problem and after treatment the Alty centre-back walked gingerly to the touchline. Play resumed with a Hyde corner on their left, followed immediately by two more, the last coming off a header over his own bar by Craney. Craney was soon involved again, blocking a shot by Salt from the third corner. Alty restored their side to eleven men when Mark Maddox, who had been limping before the match, surprisingly came on in place of Rose (4 mins).

    Hyde continued to have the better of the opening stages and played some attractive and speedy, passing football. The tall McNeil was his usual handful, playing in a wide role, whilst Clegg was getting forward with regularity up the Hyde right-side. However, the Alty defence were not allowing Hyde many clear shooting chances as they busily defended their lines. Things improved when Hardy's ball almost found Gardner in the box. Maddox then made his third good clearance of the game before Rod Thornley gave visitng fans something to cheer about with a smart sliding tackle to win posession deep in the left corner of the Alty attack to win the ball, and a free-kick, off Jones. Shuttleworth's free-kick saw a Hyde head direct the ball back to Baker (13 mins). Aspinall then did well to start a move which ended, after half a dozen passes, with a trip on Gardner, 40 yards out. From Aspinall's free-kick, Thornley fed Gardner, whose cross almost found Gary Talbot, in an advanced position (15 mins).

    A Hyde attack saw Wright head wide from McNeil's cross from the left. Another slick Hyde move then saw Clegg advance but the end of the move came when Ellis shot over the bar when he should have hit the target (18 mins). Hyde continued to press with only a brief surge forward by Craney in response from Altrincham. Adams then did well to get in the way of a Hyde shot before Craney's well-judged ball forward set Thornley in on goal but Rod's second touch let him down on the edge of the Hyde box (23 mins). Coburn then saw some action, getting to the ball before Gaynor, from Clegg's cross (24 mins). Craney then prompted a good cross from Gardner but there was no Alty man on the end of it. Wright now got in a shot from about 23 yards which went wide (26 mins), before O'Kane made one of several good interceptions for Hyde. There was then a bizarre moment when Band was penalised in centre field and Barry Shuttleworth threw the ball at his team-mate's back and almost earned a booking but Mr Kellett settled for a firm lecture to the Alty number 11 (27 mins).

    Coburn saw some more action when he held Gaynor's side-footed shot from left of goal, on the half-hour mark. Alty got in a rare shot after 33 minutes when Hardy's 25-yard effort was easily held by Baker. Hyde continued to attack and Coburn was soon forced to punch sideways across his own box but then Altrincham did manage a sustained passing movement involving Craney, Gardner, Hardy and Aspinall before Baker caught the ball. Then, when Hardy lost possession, it took a fine inerception from Talbot to stop Wright. However, when Shuttleowrth found Gardner on the right, the Alty winger raced forward but his cross was cleared (37 mins). The flowing Hyde football continued with Ellis heading over the bar (38 mins). But the best bit of football of the half from Altrincham came when Craney dispossessed Wright, advanced, and having seen Baker off his line, lobbed him from 35 yards. As the keeper backpedalled, the ball dropped just over the Hyde crossbar (40 mins). Aspinall soon received a lecture for a foul on Gaynor but he then redeemed himself with a good interception when Wright delayed his shot when in a threatening position (43 mins). There was still time for Coburn to have to punch clear and for Altrincham to win a corner. Gardner drove his corner, short, from the right, and Talbot got his head to it, but the ball skimmed off the top of the bar for a goal-kick.


    Maddox bowed to the inevitable and gave way to Lunt at the interval. Mark soon hobbled into the stand to join four other injured team-mates (Danny Murphy, Richard Acton, Gary Scott and Stephen Rose, whose right arm appeared to be in a sling). Lunt assumed an unaccustomed left-wing position as Thornley and Hardy remained the Altrincham attacking duo. Band went into the back four to replace Maddox. Soon, Hyde were attacking again- with Aspinall this time seing them off. Lunt and Thornley then linked well on the left but a Hyde goalkick resulted (50 mins). Gardner soon won Alty a corner but after this was cleared, a trip by Aspinall on Pendlebury, saw him booked (55 mins).

    McNeil then went down rather easily for such a big man when Gary Talbot challenged him and a free-kick was given just outside the Alty box. O'Kane's free-kick deflected off the wall to prompt a goalmouth melee but the ball eventually went out for a goalkick. However, Gaynor soon won a corner off Adams which led to two blocked shots and a hoofed Alty clearance which merely led to another Hyde attack. Alty were not able to build any attacks at this stage; their clearances were repeatedly prompting further Hyde attacks. Shuttlweworth was harshly booked when Hyde won a freekick and immediately drove the ball at Shuttleworth before the Alty man had much chance to retreat. Within a couple of minutes Ian Craney was also booked, for a foul (64 mins) and from the free-kick, Coburn did not get to the ball but his side won a throw in the aftermath. However, Coburn did much better when he came out to save superbly from Ellis who had latched onto a good through ball (66 mins). Hyde then won a corner after Adams sliced a clearance and Altrincham were again penned back into their own half. A foul on Thornley led to a booking for Jones as Mr Kellett began to flourish cards in a match which was never dirty. From Adams's freekick Thornley just reached the ball with his head but the ball landed on the roof of the goal; whilst Gary Talbot somehow ended up in the back of the net (70 mins)! Immediately Hyde went to the other end and Wright did superbly to get to the by-line, left of goal, and from the near post he smashed a shot which came back off the inside of the far post and was cleared, only for Hyde to come back again and for Wright to shoot over the bar (73 mins).

    Hyde now replaced Ellis by Barker (73 mins) as Hyde continued to dominate play. However, a great ball forward from defence by Aspinall found Thornley racing up the right but from an acute angle Rod, without support, elected to shoot and mised the target by some margin. Alty's general play at this stage was epitomised by a mix-up between Gardner and Thornley which saw the former's pass go straight into touch when Thornley misread Gardner's intentions. However, Altrincham's best attack of the half came when Gardner got up the right and found Hardy at the near post, his shot was cleared off the line (79 mins). From the resulting corner, Gardner hit the ball beyond the back post and a Hyde throw-in on their right followed, about 15 yards out from their own goal. The throw, by Clegg, was sent to keeper Baker, who failed to control it but the alert Niell Hardy raced in to steal it and knock the ball into the empty net for a goal out of nothing (81 mins).

    From the restart Coburn had to rush out to smother the ball in front of McNeil. Then after a Gardner foul, the referee allowed play to continue but then blew when Hyde were in a menacing position, to the annoyance of the home crowd. The Alty supporters were still in good voice as Lunt went up the left. From a Shuttleworth-Thornley combination, Lunt's shot from an acute angle, left of goal, was well held by Baker (84 mins) The stuffing had now gone out of Hyde as the men of the match were announced to be Ian Craney and Phil Salt. Band then cleared up a late attack from Hyde before Aspinall also had to clear his lines. Having booked Shuttleworth for allegedly not retreating, Mr Kellett did not book a Hyde player who not only did not reteat but picked up the ball and walked off with it after Altrincham had been awarded a free-kick. Hyde now brought on Watts for Pendlebury, as the "2 minutes" board was shown.

    After so much good play, Hyde will feel aggrieved to have lost this game, especially to such an unfortunate goal. However, it was the only game this season when Altrincham have had any good luck and even that was tempered by the injuries to Rose and Maddox. Altrincham now proceed to round two of the Challenge Cup, whilst Hyde will go into the Chairman's Cup.